Stigma and Discrimination Against LGBT People in Georgia Negatively Impact 300,000 LGBT Adults and 58,200 LGBT Youth in the State

Stigma and Discrimination Against LGBT People in Georgia Negatively Impact 300,000 LGBT Adults and 58,200 LGBT Youth in the State  

Cost State Government, Business, and the Economy Hundreds of Millions Each Year

LOS ANGELES – Georgia’s unsupportive legal landscape and social climate contribute to an environment in which LGBT people are at risk of discrimination and harassment, with costs estimated in the hundreds of millions, according to The Economic Impact of Discrimination and Stigma Against LGBT People in Georgia, a new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

“State laws in Georgia do not protect LGBT people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and local ordinances protect only about 5 percent of Georgia’s residents from such discrimination,” said Christy Mallory, Senior Counsel at the Williams Institute and co-author of the report.  “Additionally, Georgia ranks in the bottom quarter of states in terms of social support for LGBT people, although support is increasing over time.”

The study estimated costs related to discrimination against LGBT people in employment and other settings; to bullying and family rejection of LGBT youth; and to health disparities resulting from a challenging climate for LGBT people.  The study drew upon state-level data to estimate some of the cost savings that would result if Georgia were to move towards creating a more accepting environment for its 300,000 LGBT adults and 58,200 LGBT youth.

“For example, we estimate that Georgia’s economy would benefit by $110.6 million to $147.3 million each year if the excess burden of major depressive disorder among LGBT people associated with stigma-producing stress was reduced by 25-33.3 percent,” said Dr. Kerith Conron, Blachford-Cooper Research Director and Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute.  “Similarly, Georgia’s economy would benefit by $81.5 million to $108.6 million if the excess burden of smoking among LGBT people was reduced by 25-33.3 percent.”

The study found that stigma and discrimination against LGBT people in Georgia can negatively affect the state, businesses, and the economy in a number of ways:

  • Employee productivity, recruitment, and retention.  Nearly 200,000 workers in Georgia identify as LGBT.  Research shows that stigma and discrimination can mean that workers are less likely to be “out” at work and are less productive, and are less likely to remain at their jobs. We estimate that public and private employers risk losing $9,100, on average, for each employee that leaves the state or changes jobs.  In addition, many LGBT and non-LGBT workers, in particular those who are younger and have higher levels of education, prefer to work for companies with more LGBT-supportive policies, and in states with more supportive laws.
  • Public benefits expenditures.  Discrimination in employment and housing can lead to economic hardships for individuals, which in turn can lead to increased reliance on public benefits.  For example, discrimination in the workplace and in housing against transgender people costs Georgia an estimated $1,048,000 in state Medicaid expenditures and $477,000 in homeless shelter expenditures each year.
  • Lifetime achievement of youth.  Georgia is home to 58,200 LGBT youth.  Bullying and family rejection of LGBT youth increases risk for school absenteeism, drop-out, homelessness, under- and unemployment, reducing the capacity of LGBT youth to contribute to the economy as adults.  In addition, school-based harassment and family rejection can increase costs to the state via Medicaid expenditures, incarceration, and lost wages.
  • Health disparities.  LGBT people in Georgia experience disparities on health outcomes linked to stigma and discrimination including major depressive disorder and smoking.  If the disparity in rates of major depressive disorder between LGBT and non-LGBT people were reduced 25 percent to 33.3 percent, Georgia’s economy would benefit by an estimated $110.6 million to $147.3 million annually in increased productivity and decreased health care costs.  If the disparity in rates of smoking were reduced by 25 percent to 33.3 percent, Georgia’s economy would benefit by an estimated $81.5 million to $108.6 million annually.

The Economic Impact of Discrimination and Stigma Against LGBT People in Georgia concluded that if Georgia were to move toward creating a more supportive legal and social environment for LGBT people, it would likely lead to economic advantages for the state as a whole.

Read the report.